The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
Ricky Parker-Morris - a tribute
The CSCC family and indeed the wider special saloon fraternity were shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of the CSCC Special Saloon and Modsports drivers representative Ricky Parker-Morris on the the evening of January 7th 2021.
Ricky, 60, had been hospitalised over the christmas period with Covid and subsequently succumbed to Pneumonia.
There is no doubt we have lost a great man and his contribution to the special series cannot be under estimated. Ricky took on the role of drivers rep about the same time i joined the voluntary backroom staff as website builder/videographer around 2012. We enjoyed many conversations and between us we would always come up with the right article for the programme or whatever was needed to promote our beloved series. Of course Ricky was one of the leading drivers too, in the recognisable Thundersaloon Peugeot 309 he co-drove with brother Danny.
The role of drivers representative was one Ricky took very seriously and he cared passionately about the series. When I say seriously a smile or banter was never far away with Ricky. He was one of the fastest drivers in the series but never did his desire to win ever cloud his opinion of new drivers or cars. The contrary, he knew so many drivers and brought many to the series even if may have dimished his chances of winning through the extra competition. Ricky was the very spirit of the series...let`s get as many cars out there as we can and put on a great show for the fans. I've been covering the series' races 8 seasons now and have seen many times at first hand the work Ricky put in. His own car was always immaculate thanks to his close-knit crew. Ricky`s technical know how of course was key and was always on hand to advise and help fellow competitors in the paddock. He was one of those priceless people come the day of action when he was the first to arrive and last to leave once having made sure all the others competitors were good to get home and no flat batteries on the tow vehicle or any other issues.
Between stints on race day Ricky would slip out of the race overalls and into casuals, always in flip flops and cycle round the paddock checking all the competitors were good to go for the next race and keeping them updated on times for assembly, usually brought forward due to the CSCC`s efficiency and high standards of driving.
Post race he would change again into CSCC dress code for the award ceremony. His sense of humour and love of banter was never far away and post race awards were always made all the more enjoyable.
My abiding memories of Ricky will be many, on route to the collection area on raceday when i was filming he`d always stick his tongue out to me as he drove passed and give a smile. The time his wheel came off at Silverstone and he had to pull out some great driving to contain the situation, pulling off to the grass to avoid an major incident. Then Thruxton last year. The loss of his hero Pete Stevens, from Covid that spring, who he`d followed from Oval racing, through Thundersaloons into the CSCC series. It was a no-brainer that between the 2 of us we were going to do a tribute the multiple Thundersaloon champion at the first opportunity. A very poignant minute's silence by all the drivers prior to race 1, all masked up and displaying the posters of Pete i`d done was something we were proud of. Ricky was visibly moved to tears by the end of the minute and I broke protcol to be the one to give him a hug.
We didnt think it would come to this.
Typical of the man Ricky was thinking of others during the pandemic. Throughout last year he helped to build and modify wards specifically for Covid patients, in the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, as well as purifying water for the Excel Nightingale Hospital.
He will be greatly missed by his lovely family who were always there on race weekends and missed by his many friends. The CSCC will miss him both as a friend and an invaluable asset to the series. I and others will miss him everytime we walk into the CSCC paddock next time and every time after. Social media has enabled many of the drivers and enthusiasts to express their condolences over Ricky...
Veteran racer and CSCC mulitipe race winner Ian Hall has only just discovered Facebook but timely posted this tribute...`So shocked and very sad to learn of Ricky Parker-Morris' passing, such a genuine lovely man did so much to further the revival CSCC Special Saloons & Modsports Series, will be greatly missed by all the fraternity. So proud to be pictured above with him in happier times.Rip Ricky until we meet again in the great Racetrack up there'.
Clive Haynsford posted 'So sorry and really really upset to hear this, we had known each other since we were kids Never knew anyone who ever had a bad word to say about Ricky, which is an excellent legacy. My sincere condolences to his family and his huge amount of friends.'
Ricky`s old engine Guru Tim Swadkin posted 'I am finding it hard to comprehend this terrible news. My heartfelt condolences to Danny and the Morris family. A good friend for the last 40 years-always helpfull always smiling and enthusiastic about his racing and the resurgence of the Special Saloon and Modsport was very much down to him. From the early grass track racing at Layhams farm, helping John and myself with our Thundersaloon winning car to his own success with both the Peugeot cars. Rest in Peace my good friend.'
The comments on social media quite rightly went on and on as those who knew him took on board the awfully sad news.
LINK TO CSCC WEBSITE...
Ian Hall ( left ) having collected a race award from Ricky Parker-Morris ( right ) in 2017
Ricky and brother Danny were the new kids on the block in Thundersaloons for the 1989 season. Sporting a mullet hair cut or two the boys from Biggin Hill had made the step up from Oval racing following the likes of Pete Stevens and so many others.
Weapon of choice was a Peugeot 205 GTi with a 272 bhp Opel Manta engine to run in group B for cars up to 2500cc. The car had sponsorship from Weald Ceilings and would take on class opposition from various Escorts, BMW, Vauxhalls and Mantas.
Ricky had to miss to season opener at Brands whilst awaiting enough signatures to begin circuit racing. Brother Danny and stand-in John Deveraux raced to what proved to be the team's only DNF of the season.
Ricky was able to make his circuit debut at round Oulton at round 2 where the brothers wernt classified and had to rebuild the engine. Having missed to trip to Zandvoort the boys were back at Snetterton and despite the car suffering from chronic understeer took 6th overall and 3rd in class, their first finish.
Then the controversy, the Peugeot had been wearing a smart Dimma bodykit but also a T-16 style rear spoiler to help with the understeer. Back at Brands for round 5 the boys thought they had got their first class win until post race the scrutineers decided the new wing was illegal and the car was disqualified. Some sympathy but no points that day.
The boys were at Brands for the next race, a non-championship one and having toned the spoiler down indeed took that overdue class win. 8th in class at Donington after Ricky spun it at the pit lane entrance was followed by an expensive trip to Castle Combe. Having lost the bonnet in qualifying the engine blew in the race. After missing the next 2 rounds they were back at Brands for round 10..."It`s got a new engine and a new diff" said Ricky "oh yes and were are now completely skint !". 5th in class at Brands and 5th again at Donington placed the plucky crew 9th in the final championship standing for class B cars. What a rollercoaster of a first season.
The boys continued with the white 205 for 1990 and despite the poor handling of the car consistantly picked up points due to reliability. Three times they placed 3rd in class but with a big 9 points for that elusive win they only took 5th overall with 26 points, still some way behind Tony Dickinson`s winning 54 tally. Combe again proved a bogie track with the only non-finish when the car was black-flagged because the boys had taken some of noise reducing material out of the exhaust as it strangled the performance.
By 1991 plans for the new 309 car were under way but the 209 was used for a third season. It was a similar story but a 2nd in class at Oulton kept them in touch with the class leaders and the highlight of the 3 seasons thus far came at Snetterton with their only comepetitive thundersaloons class win by a fraction of a second with Ricky taking the flag. Both drivers sharing and changing at pit stops as was the format back then. That took them to 2nd in the championship at the halfway stage but they slipped to 4th by the end, finishing with 28 points to Dickinson`s 52.
Ricky`s record in the 209 was 28 starts, 21 finishes and 3 class wins ( including the disqualification and the non-championship race )
Race Career...part 1
For 1992 the format of Thundersaloon races was altered to 2 shorter races per race meet without need for pit stops. The boys from Biggin Hill finally had their new stead ready. Well almost. Their now familiar Peugeot 309 which had taken over a year to construct overseen by project manager Raymond Addis.
The same Opel 2.4 unit was transferred over for what proved to be the final season of the 2-class system. The old 205 sold to the McLaid brothers. The 309 only just made the season opener at Brands after a week of all-nighters only to miss practice after a shock absorber exploded. So when Danny started from the pitlane ( ironically alongside the old 205 too ) it was a journey into the unknown. The silencing matting had caught fire in the exhaust and was choking Danny. DNF. Ricky feared little better on this steep learning curve with the throttle linkage breaking in race 2.
The 309 was featured in Fast Car magazine ( July 1992 ) which Danny was editor of. The car was clothed in lowline Dimma bodykit and used hardware from a Tiga C2 car including its suspension.
Testing at Snetterton ahead of the 2nd meeting helped speed up the development but brakes remained the problem. Danny and then Ricky both finished but but both last of the runners in Norfolk. Results improved as the car improved and the 5th meeting saw Ricky take 2nd in class with 9th back at Brands and Danny went one better in race 2 with a well earned class win. The boys had little luck thereafter. There were 2 incidents that spoiled the season...at a wet Thruxton causing the race to be red flagged after a tangle with Brian Chatfield, that circuit becoming the boys new bogie track. Then the big one at the season finale at Brands in qualifying. Coming into Paddock Hill, 3 cars jumped the red pit lane light and came out infront of the 309 and 2 other cars. All six cars were damaged in the resulting chaos, the 309 thumping into the 'Escat' car. The damage was extensive and the car was parked up back in the garage. With not enough funds to justify a rebuild the 309 was left on the very back burner for twenty years...
part 2 to follow shortly.